Gardening Books for Growing Kids

Reading recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar of our sister practice, Farrell Pediatrics

I have a confession to make: I have whatever kind of thumb is the opposite of a green thumb. I cannot keep any kind of flower alive and although I love the idea of having a yard full of beautiful flowers, it just never happens. Even so, every year when the weather starts to warm up I start to get bit by the gardening bug and wonder if maybe this year will be different!

There is something magical about the process of watching a seed grow into a flower or evenmore, a yummy vegetable that you can eat. One way to be part of that magic if, like me, you aren’t blessed with a green thumb is to experience the joy of gardens and flowers through books!


Planting a Garden by Lois Ehlert

This book is great for babies, toddlers and young preschoolers. The wonderful Lois Ehlert uses her trademark bright collage illustrations to tell the story of a young girl and her mother who plant a rainbow every year in their garden. Each page highlights a different color of the rainbow.


The Gardener by Sarah Stewart

This 1998 Caldecott Honor book by the husband and wife author-illustrator team of Sarah Stewart and David Small takes place during the Depression. A young girl from a farm must go and stay with her uncle, a baker, in the city. She initiates a project on the rooftop and plants a secret garden. The book is told through her letters home. This is a good way for young kids to be introduced to a new way of storytelling.


Miss Rumphius by Barbary Cooney

This classic and beloved book tells the story of Alice Rumphius, who dreams, as a young girl, of traveling the world and one day settling by the sea. Her grandfather tells her those are wonderful dreams but that she must also find a way to “make the world more beautiful”. We see her go on and travel to exotic places. She then finds her place by the sea but still isn’t sure how to make the world more beautiful. Suddenly, she thinks of spreading lupine seeds over the countryside on her walks. Then, in the spring, the fields are blooming with color and over the years she becomes known as the Lupine Lady. The story is based on Hilda Edwards, who was the real Lupine Lady of Maine.


And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Julie Fogliano’s gentle poetic text and Erin Stead’s lovely watercolors meet in this gentle book that is all about waiting for spring. The book starts with, “First you have brown, all around you have brown, then there are seeds, and a wish for rain…” we follow a young boy and his dog as they wait for the arrival of spring.


A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutton

This book is one in a series that combines incredibly detailed and gorgeous illustrations with fascinating facts about nature. The use of thought-provoking adjectives like “sleepy” and a poetic sounding text also sets these books apart from other non-fiction. Check out the others in the series as well (A Rock is LivelyAn Egg is QuietA Beetle is Shy).


Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming

For kids who like their books silly, this will hit the right note! Mr. McGreely plants a garden and dreams of the yummy carrots. Every day when he wakes up he sees that a group of bunnies has snuck into his garden and eaten his carrots. Every day he tries to find a way to keep them out but they find their way around it. The silliness comes as Mr. McGreely gets more and more elaborate with his efforts to outsmart the bunnies.


Weslandia by Paul Fleischman

This weirdly fantastical book is for the kid who march to the beat of a different drum. Wesley is that kind of kid. One summer, he decides to start his own civilization. He plants the soil and a new kind of plant grows. The plant provides for all his needs. Slowly, those around him become intrigued by his new world.


The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen

This sweet book is about a little girl and her grandfather who recreate his old garden by painting a new garden on his small city balcony. It’s a testimony to the power of imagination and to the special nature of the grandfather/granddaughter relationship.


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

For older kids, don’t forget this classic book about a girl and boy who are healed (spiritually and physically) by the magic of a garden.


The Year of the Garden by Andrea Chang

A prequel to the “Year of the Book” early chapter book series about Anna Wang, this book tells how Anna is inspired to try and grow a garden after reading The Secret Garden.  All of the books in this series are great for early readers.


Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

For older readers, this short novella tells the story of a community garden through thirteen different speakers. The different speakers provide diverse voices across age, gender, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The book is a celebration of the diversity of a multicultural community using the garden as a backdrop.